Interview: Fatal1ty

(this interview was originally done at E3 in Los Angeles in 2003. WAY back before Twitch and ‘professional gamers’. Fatal1ty was one of the first rock stars of gaming).


-interview by Bushman

We are all familiar with the humbling phrase, “No matter how good you are… there will always be somebody better.” When it comes to the First Person Shooters genre of the video game world, Fatal1ty is who they are talking about. Indisputably the best there is for a few years now, he is untouchable. Who is second best? No one knows cause they are that far behind Fatal1ty. His machine-like skills have earned him numerous championship titles and their surprisingly large purses of anywhere from a few thousand to $20,000 or more in cash and prizes. And just like the pros in any other sport, sponsors and endorsements have paved the way to even more travel and tournaments. In Fatal1ty’s case the experience has proven one thing. He is the best.

For the uninitiated, The FPS Genre (First Person Shooter) is just that, video games that specialize in presenting the world in the ‘first person’ point of view. Typically, you see your hand and the weapon you are holding and then navigate through a completely rendered 3D world, trying to blast other characters to digital oblivion. Now that online speeds are catching up to the graphic engines, you get 10’s of thousands of players online playing various versions of recreated mayhem. Quake III, Unreal Tournament II and Counter-Strike lead the pack of the most popular. And just like Highlander… there can be only one. Fatal1ty is the highlander of the FPS world. Slaying any and all who dare step up.

Actually, he’s just a geeky-cool kid who rips at games, but when you are on-line, everyone talks big.

I managed to corner the most recognized name to ever come out of pro-gaming at the 2003 E3 convention, which is a giant industry-only video game event that is the pinnacle of the best in new gaming. What an appropriate setting to talk to the world’s top shooter.

How old is Fatal1ty?
Fatal1ty: 22

What titles do you officially hold?
I’ve won a lot of titles. I’ve won six CPL Championships. For the title, I’ve won CPL Champion of the year for 2000, 2001 and 2002. I just recently won that one on MTV (as show on the networks ‘MTV True Life: I’m a Gamer’). Then also at the World Cyber Games in 2000, I won the gold medal for the USA. I got to represent the USA there. They had the top 4 players for like 20 countries. There’s a lot more tournaments that I’ve won, but those are the major titles.

What is the equipment you use right now?
Right now I’m back and forth on keyboards, going wherever the flow is, what I like the most. I’m looking forward to using this type of keyboard and we are going to create a ‘Fatal1ty’ version. And basically what I’ll do is you’ll have certain keys that have fast reaction so you are able to dodge and move faster in the game. That’s what we are going for to have the top of the line gaming equipment. So you can have that extra edge that you need to get to the highest level.


You are commonly known for being the Unreal Tournament Champion, what games do you play just for fun?
Well see, I was Quake III Champion of the world in 2000 and 2001. And then I switched to Alien VS Predator II in 2001 and won that as well. I won a brand new Ford Focus with like a 10,000 custom paint job on it. It has like an Alien grabbing the car and everything… cobwebs and green flames… it’s totally decked out. And then there’s the Unreal Tournament 2003, which I just won, on MTV. Basically, those three games I’ve played professionally. Quake III I played very heavily. Besides that for fun, I do play CS (Counter-Strike), I’m actually very good as CS, but I don’t really compete in it. I just play for fun… just kind of hang out. And then also WarCraft III I play for fun. You do get bored just playing the same game, so I like to play a team game.

What is your preferred stimulant?
Stimulant? … I like music. I listen to music to get me pumped up and get me excited.

Do you listen to music when you game?
I used to all the time, especially when I was younger. But when you start realizing how important the sounds are in the game so you try and turn off the music. But I love alternative rock, I like pop, I like techno, I like rap… I like all that stuff.

Give me some names.
I like 50Cent’s new stuff. It’s pretty awesome. ’21 Questions’ that songs pretty cool. Eminem has a song called ‘One Shot’. It’s kind of like you have one shot to go out and prove yourself, you have one shot to make it. I really like that song because it’s true from my point of view and it fits me perfect. But I’m not a really big fan of just one person. I can listen to pretty much everything. These artists are awesome.

When did you first realize you could make a living playing games?

It had to be in the year 2000. February 2000. I already won a tournament and won $4000. And I was like, ‘Whoa. I got $4000. This could be a cool hobby.’ Y’know, just part-time on the side. Something for fun. Then I got flown to Sweden to be in a tournament. I played the top 20 players in the world and I won 18 games straight and lost 0. I just destroyed everyone. And these are the top players in the world. And I just destroyed them all. And I was like ‘Whoa. This is crazy.’ At the time I realized what I did I asked around and was like, “Has this ever been done before?” And they are like, “No. This is insane dude. You’re nuts”.

So it’s a very natural skill?
I’ve always been really good at sports and especially hand coordination type sports like pool or ping-pong. But I played baseball and football and all that stuff. But basically I realized there was a new company called Razer that had a new mouse coming out. I thought they should endorse someone. So I approached them and was like, “What do you think about you guys possibly endorsing me. Y’know having me travel around with your mouse and winning tournaments and everything.” And they were like, “Let me talk to the president. It’s a good idea.” So they talked to the president they talked to him and he said, “Yeah. Let’s do it.” So I got a $6000 signing bonus and then $2000 a month. And they took care of all the travel expense and they took me to Australia, Holland… I was going everywhere.

So what does a pro-gamer make a year (roughly)?
I would say it averages out to roughly $50,000 a year. Some years are different than others. But right now gaming is booming more than ever. You are gonna start seeing more tournaments all the time. I started my own company now where I sell my own mouse pads, a bigger mouse pad. So it helps a lot to keep competing and having the edge. Next year I’ll probably make over a $100,000 if I do everything just right.

“I am playing at a booth here at E3 and people have a chance to play against me and try to beat me. I’ve played about 100 guys so far. The best score of all 100 guys is 0. And the worst score is -2. And I think the total score is I have around 1000 kills to their -12.”


Do you find people want to challenge you a lot just so they can say they beat Fatal1ty?
I am playing at a booth here at E3 and people have a chance to play against me and try to beat me. I’ve played about 100 guys so far. The best score of all 100 guys is 0. And the worst score is -2. And I think the total score is I have around 1000 kills to their -12.

When you play online, what do you do about cheating? If everyone wants to challenge you, you KNOW there is gonna be some low-life with a cheat.
I don’t play on the net. If I play on the net for fun with my friends on my own server that I control myself. It would be pretty obvious to catch a cheat, for me especially. But more or less, I only play on a LAN. I can practice in my basement. If I practice on the Internet, it’s private. It’s me and other guys I know I can trust.

Do you get called out as being a cheat a lot? Good players just can’t accept you are that good?
Actually on that MTV show and they showed it and the guy was like, “He’s god-like. I think he’s cheating.” We are on a LAN. He was like 5 feet from me.

And lastly and most importantly, can you get chicks by being a pro-gamer?
(With a big cheese-eatin’ grin) You can get chicks from gaming.


And here is some game-play of those machine-like skills…


MTV did a mini-doc on gaming back in the day that featured Fatal1ty. Check it out…